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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations her Department has had with (a) other Government Departments and (b) other stakeholders in relation to the December 2004 consultation meeting for the OECD study, Doing Business in Conflict Zones; what the result of the consultation was; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: UK input to the OECD Investment Committee's discussion on "Conducting business with integrity in Weak governance zones: Issues for discussion and a case study of the DRC" will be informed by discussion between DTI, FCO and DfID. These discussions are on-going.
David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, when she will reply to the letter for the honourable Member for Walsall North of 20 October, regarding a factory closure; and for what reasons no acknowledgement was sent at the time. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: As with other utility companies performing a public service role, Parliament has given electricity companies access to compulsory powers where voluntary agreement cannot be obtained. Exercise of such powers is subject to a statutory process where ultimately confirmation or refusal of application is given by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry or officials acting on her behalf.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the company (a) constructing, (b) that owns and (c) that operates an electricity pylon is permitted to make a financial profit from land that is acquired under a compulsory purchase order to construct an electricity pylon. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The sale of compulsorily acquired land is a matter for the electricity company. I understand that they would normally apply the Crichel Down Rules. These non-statutory rules, which apply to surplus land compulsorily purchased by the Government, allow for the offer of such land at its current market value to former owners, by way of a first opportunity to repurchase.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The 2003 Electricity (2003/54/EC) and Gas (2003/55/EC) Directives establish a framework for the development of the internal energy market, with an implementation date of 1 July this year. These are complemented by the 2003 Electricity Regulation (EC1228) and the proposed Gas Regulation (COM (2003) 741), currently before the European Parliament, which both seek to harmonise the conditions of cross-border trade.
The Commission produces annual benchmarking reports on the development of competition in individual member states. The third report, of March this year, is available on the Commission website at http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy/gas/benchmarking/doc3/3rd_benchmarking_report_en.pdf.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what contribution (a) departmental staff and (b) staff of executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies responsible to her Department made to the conference on energy security held at the Royal United Services Institute on 3 to 4 November 2004; and if she will place papers prepared by her Department for the conference in the Library. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Three officials from the Department gave presentations to the conference, on: 'Nuclear safety, security and emergency planning'; 'Downstream oil resilience' and 'The role of energy security in Government energy policy'. I have arranged for the slides they presented to be placed in the Libraries of the House. I also spoke at the conference. A copy of my speech is on the DTI website.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate her Department has made of the likely change in the number of households in fuel poverty as a result of increased fuel prices. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien:
Our analysis of the effects of increased fuel price rises suggests that fuel poverty is likely to rise by a limited amount in 2004 and 2005 (perhaps by up to 200,000 vulnerable households in England. However any potential increase in the numbers needs to be set against the very real progress that has been made: the number of households in fuel poverty in the UK has fallen by over 3 million since 1996, to 2.25 million in 2002 and further reductions are expected for 2003. The effects of the recent price increases will also be countered by other measures that we have put in place on incomes and benefits. The assumptions behind this estimate are set out in two DTI publications which accompanied publication of the "Fuel Poverty in England: The Government's Plan for Action" on 30 November. These internet publications are available to view at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/consumers/fuel_poverty/index.shtml.
13 Dec 2004 : Column 887W
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether she has held discussions with representatives of industry about the October price spike in forward wholesale gas prices; if she will assess price trends in the market since liberalisation; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have had meetings with two major chemical companies on this issue and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met representatives on the Energy Intensive Users Group on 9 December. Officials are having on-going discussions with industry representatives to share information and assessments, and to hear their proposals for what might be done.
Gas prices are continuously monitored by Ofgem and my Department, and my Department publishes regular updates in the Quarterly Energy Prices Publication. Over the long run our policies of market liberalisation and non-intervention have delivered low gas prices and increased choice for domestic and industrial consumers, and even now domestic prices are only just returning to the levels they were at in 1997, and industrial gas prices are still likely to be below the average over the last 30 years.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department is seeking to maximise the recovery of gas from the UK continental shelf though a number of initiatives, such as the fallow blocks exercise, the new licence approach and the initiative on mature fields.
The Government are also facilitating the huge programme of private sector investment in the UK's gas supply infrastructure, including import projects such as the doubling of the Bacton-Zeebrugge Interconnector import capacity, a new interconnector from the Netherlands, the new Norwegian (Langeled) pipeline and three major new LNG import terminals.
On the EU front, we and Ofgem are pressing the European Commission to launch a sectoral investigation into any European gas suppliers who may have acted anti-competitively. We are also continuing to press the European Commission hard for timely liberalisation of energy markets across the EU.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Export Credits Guarantee Department has taken since October 2003 to ascertain whether NW Kellogg or other subsidiary of Halliburton was implicated in (a) the French investigation and (b) the US investigations into allegations of bribery in connection with the LNG Plant at Bonny Island in Nigeria. 
Mr. Alexander: ECGD is not a law enforcement agency and has no investigatory powers. Despite having made a request for details of the French investigation, ECGD has been denied information by the French investigator but has been informed by Halliburton that it is not currently being examined by either of the investigations. We await the conclusion of the investigations in question.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which company signed the no-bribery warranty for the application for the Export Credits Guarantee Department support for a contract on the LNG Plant at Bonny Island in Nigeria. 
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the contract supported by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in connection with the LNG plant at Bonny Island in Nigeria was. 
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library a copy of the recourse agreement and related documents signed in connection with Export Credits Guarantee Department support for a contract on the LNG plant at Bonny Island in Nigeria. 
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which companies signed the recourse agreement for the contract supported by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in connection with the LNG plant at Bonny Island in Nigeria. 
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